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Nutro ultra cat food is a product of Nutro Products, Inc., a subsidiary of Mars Incorporated. The company was originally founded by John Saleen in 1926, making this one of the first commercial pet food products in the United States. Since that time, Nutro cat food products have grown into one of the largest brands available and can be found in most grocery and pet stores.
Unfortunately, Nutro products have a mixed reputation. Perhaps the most damaging allegation occurred in 1998 when trace levels of pentobarbital were found in two separate sampling of Nutro pet food products. Pentobarbital is the chemical used to euthanize pets, raising questions about where their meat by-products are sourced. Issues continued in 2007 as Nutro was included in the deadly melamine recalls that killed thousands of pets, then again in 2008 when a flood of illnesses were reported and linked to Nutro pet foods. Additional recalls were issued in 2009.
In spite of their shaky reputation, this brand continues to be a top player in the pet food industry. Below, you’ll find our analysis of the top 10 ingredients in this food. Please let us know what you think by using the rating system above this article and leave a comment below.
List Of Ingredients In This Cat Food
Chicken Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Rice, Poultry Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Wheat Flour, Herring Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavors, Sunflower Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Soybean Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Potassium Chloride, Dried Yeast, Calcium Carbonate, Dried Vegetable Fiber (Carrots, Celery, Beets, Parsley, Lettuce, Water Cress, Spinach), Choline Chloride, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Cranberry Powder, Taurine, Salt, DL-Methionine, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Inositol, Dried Chicory Root, Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Beta Carotene, Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Potassium Iodide, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K activity), Folic Acid.
Top 5 Ingredients Analysis
Chicken meal is ground up chicken meat that has been carefully dried to a moisture level of 10%. The protein content is 65% and the fat level is 12%. Many pet owners feel that chicken is a superior ingredient to chicken meal. It would seem logical that feeding a pet a whole, non-rendered chicken would be good. However, whole chicken still contains its moisture content prior to cooking and since whole chicken consists of about 80% moisture, after the cooking process is over there isn’t much left. With chicken meal, the moisture was removed prior to cooking. That means, chicken meal actually has a much higher protein percentage and provides far more beneficial nutrients to your cats than whole chicken. Meals consist of meat and skin, with or without the bones, but exclusive of feathers/hair, heads, feet, horns, entrails etc. and have the proper calcium/phosphorus ratio required for a balanced diet. It’s also important to note the quality difference between “chicken by-product meal” and “chicken meal.” While we do take exception to chicken by-products, chicken meal is actually a very high quality and nutritious ingredient. We are happy to see this listed.
Corn Gluten Meal
This is the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm. The expression “corn gluten” is colloquial jargon that describes corn proteins that are neither gliadin nor glutenin. Only wheat, barley, rye and oat contain true gluten. For the most part, this ingredient is normally only found in cheaper “grocery store brand” cat foods. Corn is frequently used as a filler ingredient to help make your cat feel more full, but it does not add much of anything to the nutritional value in the food. In addition, this is a common allergen for many cats and corn based ingredients can often be difficult for cats to digest. That’s why we can’t recommend this food for cats with food allergies or sensitive digestive systems.
This is a grain that many cat owners are trying to avoid because it is a known allergen for many cats. The ingredient doesn’t supply much of any nutritional value, either. However, of all the grain products used in cat food, this grain has the lowest risk of causing allergies. There is also a growing risk of arsenic in rice. So far, the FDA believes the arsenic levels are low enough to be safe for humans and pets. However, you might want to read more about this, just so you are aware. Many cat food companies like to use this ingredient because it helps to make your cat feel more full and it is one of the easier grains for cats to digest.
Poultry Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E)
Poultry is the #1 most consumed meat product for human consumption and as such, there are many left over trimmings and other sources fat can be derived from. It is good to see a named animal fat source in this food and cats should have no problem digesting this ingredient.
Wheat flour is a powder made from the grinding of wheat. It helps with the cooking process and also helps to increase the nutrient values of the food. However, cats do not digest wheat in the same way they digest other meat based products. Wheat does not provide much nutrition to cats and is considered a lower quality ingredient. Some cats have problems digesting wheat and others may experience allergic reactions to this ingredient. In lower quantities, this is considered to be a safe ingredient for cats, but it isn’t considered to be a high quality or nutritious ingredient, either.
Additional Ingredients Of Interest
Herring is a silvery fish that is most abundant in coastal waters. Fish provides an excellent source of proteins as well as high amounts of healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Some people worry about mercury levels in fish. It’s true that all fish contains some degree of mercury, the level in salmon is much lower than other types of fish and the FDA doesn’t believe it causes any problems. Most herring in cat food is likely farmed herring, but higher end cat food (especially those labeled “natural”) can often times be fished from natural environments. The biggest problem with fish ingredients, including herring, is if the fish includes an antioxidant called ethoxyquin (EMQ). It is believe that ethoxyquin could be very harmful to cats and other animals. Always make sure you are using “Ethoxyquin free” cat food blends when they include fish ingredients. When in doubt, call the customer service number and ask.
Dried Plain Beet Pulp
Beet pulp is a by-product from the processing of sugar beet and is a source of fiber and energy. It is popular among many pet food companies due to its high availability and low price. The most common complaint about this ingredient is that it causes digestion problems, most commonly a very hard stool or diarrhea. It has also been known to cause bloat in some dogs and cats which can be very serious if left unchecked.
While this ingredient may appear to be healthy and safe because it is “natural”, we believe this is a pretty poor quality ingredient. While it might be a harmless flavoring sprayed onto the food, natural flavors can be obtained from almost anything deemed “natural”. Not all things natural are good and some “natural flavor” sources can be downright harmful. Without being able to verify what chemicals are included into this ingredient, we feel a bit apprehensive about it.
Sunflower Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E)
Sunflower oil is the non-volatile oil compressed from sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil is commonly used in food as a frying oil. In this case, it is likely used to help in the cooking process and also to help boost the protein percentage in the food.
Soybean Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E)
Soybean oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the soybean (Glycine max) and is one of the most widely consumed cooking oils. Soy is a plant protein used by pet food companies to boost protein content and add bulk. Because plant proteins are less expensive than meat proteins, pet food manufacturers use them to increase profit margins. The majority of experts on pet nutrition agree soy isn’t good nutrition for cats or dogs. It is considered a low-quality, incomplete protein well known to create food allergies in pets. Many cat food companies take a hard stance against the “negative publicity” that soy products receive and defend the use of soy strongly, claiming that soy helps add nutrients and improves a cats coat and skin. However, we do not find soy products to be reminiscent of a high quality cat food.